Author Topic: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying  (Read 542 times)

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reyesar

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Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« on: September 30, 2022, 09:21:03 pm »
This hit home.

ďI wish I could just eat real food.Ē These are not healthy words you want to hear from your 8, 10, or 12 year old but they are what a lot of parents in my area are hearing this time of year.
If youíve been following me for a while, you know youth football is one of my familyís passions. On the football field is where my boys have experienced their greatest struggles as well as their greatest triumphs. My husband has coached since my now Junior in high school was in 3rd grade.

But things are not good or safe it took until 2 weeks ago for me to really see it.

Our league is the only youth sports league in our area that has a maximum weight for players. And at 5í11Ē tall and nearly 14 years old, my youngest son started the football season well over that weight.
Before the season started, we tried to convince him to join one of the many other leagues around that donít have a weight limit or explore the possibility of moving up to the high schoolís Freshman team but he didnít want to do any of that.

He wanted to spend his last year of youth football playing with his friends in the league heís been in for the last 7 years.
And so we supported him on a workout plan and helped him clean up his eating. For 6 weeks he worked out every day - on top of the teamís regular workouts. He skipped cake at birthday parties, ate grilled chicken while his friends ate cheeseburgers and fries, and always chose water over any other drink option.

At 13 years old, he showed more dedication than any adult Iíve ever met.

But, it didnít matter.

The first game of the season came and he was still 4 pounds overweight.

He was devastated and when I saw his face after the weigh-in process (which happens off to the side of the football field about 30 minutes before the game), my heart broke. I cried. My husband cried. My son cried. He would not be able to play the game he loves because he weighed too much - no accounting for his height, stature, or bmi - just because of a random number on a scale.
Then he shook it off and stood on the sidelines for the entire game, helping his teammates.

Heíd try again for week 2.

One week later he made weight. He walked away from the weigh-in shed after being told he was light enough to play. But he wasnít beaming like I thought he would be. His face was expressionless really - maybe relief, maybe happiness, but mostly exhaustion.

Right there on the sidelines, I started crying. Partly because I was so proud of him but also partly out of guilt and anger. Why are we part of something that feels so unsafe and unnecessary? We already know the risks football carries with it - why are we adding other potential risks on top of it? Is it really safe for teens and tweens and 8 year olds to be focused on a number on the scale?
After just a few minutes of play, he took himself out of the game as he was about to pass out. It was there, in that moment, that I decided it was time to learn more about weight limits.
I spent the next week, while on vacation, combing through research and what I found was shocking.

There is no research that supports the use of weight limits in football. None. It does not actually keep smaller kids safer despite being told that by various members of the youth football community for years.
There is, however, lots of research that suggests that weight limits in youth sports lead to things like disordered eating, depression, and many other physical illnesses.

I shared the research with other parents and received email after email and text after text from parents with children like my son who just wanted to play football with their friends but to do so had to ďcut weight.Ē
I reached out to the president who oversees the entire league of 28 towns to find out if he could share the research the league uses to support the weight limit.

After 6 days and 2 emails, he reached out to me and admitted, in writing, that there is no research used by the league to back their decision around weight limits. Instead, he shared ďthere is a large part of the league that believes for every weight increase we allow, or bigger kids we let play, there will be an equal number of smaller kids who will drop out due to the size disparity."

Armed with the undeniable confirmation that the weight limits are not in place to protect anyone and instead are there because maybe smaller kids wonít register to play, I compiled all of the data, research, parent commentary, and signatures from parents throughout the league and submitted it to the league director, all of the presidents throughout every town in the league, and each townís league representative.
Officially, my 20+ pages of research and insights has been met with silence.

Unofficially my phone hasnít stopped ringing and my email box is flooded with story after story from parents, coaches, and board members from many towns throughout the league who are frustrated like me and want to see change but find the current channels of change aren't working.

Their stories have made me cry each day - confirmation of players with disordered eating, depression, and even suicide attempts linked directly to not making weight for football.
Unofficially Iíve also had multiple people share with me that the president of the league will not be calling a special meeting, will not be acting on any of the safety concerns presented to him, and will not be forced into doing anything because of me.

This story doesnít have an ending yet but Iím not going to be quiet. I believe so strongly that what our children and teens need are programs and sports options that challenge them in healthy ways, that present them with obstacles that can be overcome by hard work, effort and skill, not trash bag runs, saunas, starving themselves, and public shaming about their weight.

My biggest regret in all this is that I didnít say something my very first year in youth football as I watched 8 year olds struggle to ďmake weight.Ē My gut knew then that it was wrong but I went along with it because surely any league providing sports opportunities for our kids must be making their decisions from a point of safety, right?

What Iíve learned is that when your gut tells you something is wrong but people around you tell you itís fine, itís ok to trust your gut and see for yourself.

Itís ok to speak up.
Itís ok to reach out.
Itís ok to shine light on the dark spots in our life.
Itís ok to make noise.
Itís ok to be labeled as a parent who is stirring the pot.

Itís ok to want better for our children.

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AllIn21

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Re: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2022, 08:10:48 am »
Complete BS. Iím not a fan of weight limits, but there isnít a kid in 7th grade being forced out of playing football, because there is no max weight limit. Your story doesnít hold water.
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Mav3834

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Re: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2022, 06:16:39 pm »
As one of the 28 presidents I can tell you I didn't get your email but even if I had it would have been met with silence.
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SharkBait

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Re: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2022, 10:38:41 pm »
Our club didnít receive an email from anyone regarding weight limits. And your ďalmost 14 year oldĒ must be an older 6th grader, barely making the age limit also. Seventh grade doesnít have a max weight limit. Maybe you could use your research to propose removing the 6th grade weight limit to accommodate the schools that move to school ball in 7th grade. We have had several kids play up due to weight over the years & some even require the special sticker but our club is not opposed to the weight limits in general.
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. - Muhammad Ali

forrest283

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Re: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2022, 07:09:53 am »
Our club didnít receive an email from anyone regarding weight limits. And your ďalmost 14 year oldĒ must be an older 6th grader, barely making the age limit also. Seventh grade doesnít have a max weight limit. Maybe you could use your research to propose removing the 6th grade weight limit to accommodate the schools that move to school ball in 7th grade. We have had several kids play up due to weight over the years & some even require the special sticker but our club is not opposed to the weight limits in general.

6th grade doesnít have a max weight.

Iím in favor of the one and two stripe rule but I personally donít like the max weight for each grade. But itís the rules in the league we play in so weíll follow them or find another league.

GOTTALUVFB

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Re: Weight Limits - I'm Just Saying
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2022, 08:36:17 am »
Can we get a follow up for the end of the season?
Or was this a practice is creative writing?


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